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Grain Free Diets For Dogs

Why Is The Fda Investigating Grain

‘Grain free’ diet for dogs may lead to heart failure

It is easy to panic anytime we see an FDA headline about pet food. After all, keeping our dogs healthy is essential to us, and we know that diet can make a big difference in a dogs well-being. We reached out to Dr. Jerry Klein, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the AKC, to hear his thoughts on the ongoing FDA investigation.

The FDA is investigating a potential dietary link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy and dogs eating certain grain-free dog foods. The foods of concern are those containing legumes such as peas or lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes listed as primary ingredients. The FDA began investigating this matter after it received reports of DCM in dogs that had been eating these diets for a period of months to years. DCM itself is not considered rare in dogs, but these reports are unusual because the disease occurred in breeds of dogs not typically prone to the disease.

Between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2019, the FDA received 524 reports of DCM , and most reports were submitted after the FDAs first public alert in July 2018. The total number of pets affected is greater than 524 because some reports included multi-pet households.

How Should You Select A Food For Your Pet

When selecting a diet for your pet, the best advice is to ask your veterinarian. Veterinarians receive training in animal nutrition while in school and at educational conferences throughout their career they are much better suited to advise you about proper diets than a pet store employee. It is worth noting that there have been no reported cases of dogs developing nutritionally mediated DCM while eating a food that meets the World Small Animal Veterinary Association guidelines, so that is a good place to start.

Taste Of The Wild Wetlands Grain

Our Rating: 4.5Top Ingredients: Duck, Duck Meal, Chicken Meal, Sweet Potatoes, PeasType: Dry

This grain-free formula is a good choice for most adult American Bullies. It is made with duck as the first ingredient, which is a great choice for most adult canines.


Senior dogs occasionally need specifically-formulated dog food just for them. Most senior dog foods contain extra nutrients that some senior dogs might need, like joint-supporting vitamins.

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Why We Switched To Homemade Dog Food

Recently, I shared a blog post about our dogs health issues and why we decided to make the switch to a diet that is made up of 100% human grade food.

In our experience, the switch was easy, cost effective, and so much healthier for our dogs than a traditional doggie diet of processed kibble! The homemade dog food recipe that I make for our dogs combines lean ground sirloin, wholesome brown rice, fresh vegetables, hard boiled eggs, and tender herbs. This healthy, vibrant alternative to traditional dog food has given our 11 year old dog, Hooch, a new lease on life!

Since making the switch 8 months ago I have been so inspired by the improvements we have seen in Hooch! Its pushed me to continue to research different ingredients that might help even more. Im excited to share my first Homemade Dog Food Seasoning blend with you and your pup! I really hope you will benefit as much as we have.

Natures Recipe Salmon Sweet Potato & Pumpkin Recipe


Image courtesy Natures Recipe

Natures Recipe Salmon, Sweet Potato & Pumpkin helps your dog maintain a healthy digestive and immune system by combining real salmon and fiber-rich pumpkin. The salmon in the food ensures that your dog gets enough omega fatty acids to keep their joints lubricated and their skin and coat healthy.

This meat-free food is also devoid of corn, wheat, and soy.

This brands kibble has a strong fishy odor that some owners found unpleasant, and the kibble itself easily crumbles, particularly during shipping. Despite its three bag sizes of 4, 12, and 24 pounds, Natures Recipe is one of the most costly choices on the market.

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Diet Information From Reported Cases

Review of the canine reports shows that most reports were for dry dog food formulations, but raw food, semi-moist food, and wet foods were also represented.

When examining the most commonly reported pet food brands named in DCM reports submitted to the FDA, it is important to note that the graph below is based on reports that included brand information and that some reports named multiple brands. Brands that were named ten or more times are featured below. For a granular, case-by-case breakdown of DCM reports submitted to the FDA, see Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy Complaints Submitted to FDA-CVM Through April 30, 2019. FDA urges pet owners to work with their veterinarians, who may consult a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, to obtain the most appropriate dietary advice for their pet’s specific needs prior to making diet changes.

To better characterize diets reported in DCM cases, product labels were examined to determine whether the product was grain-free , and whether the products contained peas, other lentils including chickpeas and beans, or potatoes . Because so many products contained peas and/or lentils, a category was created for peas and/or lentils. More than 90 percent of products were grain-free, and 93 percent of reported products had peas and/or lentils. A far smaller proportion contained potatoes.

Ground White Meat Turkey

You may have noticed that turkey is a common ingredient in dog treats and dog food. Thoroughly cooked and drained ground white meat turkey, as long as its plain and has no additives or salt, is perfectly healthy for dogs. However, there are some parts of the turkey you should never feed to your pup. Obviously, never feed your dog turkey bones as they can splinter and cause serious problems for them. Also, the fat in turkey skin may cause pancreatitis, a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed and swollen, so you do not want to feed them the skin either. The seasoning added to pre-cooked store bought turkey and deli meat usually contains onion and garlic which can irritate your dogs bowels and cause serious digestive issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Recommended Reading: Diet According To Body Type

What Is Grain Free Dog Food

The grain free puppy food is exclusive of grains and cereals such as rice, wheat, corn, barley, oats, rye, etc. Grains are replaced by other carbohydrate substitutes like potatoes, peas, lentils, sweet potatoes, etc. And in many cases, it is observed that FDA grain free dog food tends to be equal or even higher in means of carbohydrate supply than regular grain food.

Common Symptoms Of Yeast Infections:

Grain-free diet linked to issues in dogs | KVUE

If your dog has a yeast infection, you will probably notice changes in your dogs behavior. A quick trip to the vet will confirm your suspicions. There are a few key symptoms to look out for.

  • Intense itching, swelling, and redness of the skin. As well as lots of scratching, you might notice them doing things like dragging their bum along the floor for relief.
  • Sores on the skin, usually circular in shape
  • Bad odor, usually with a distinctive musty smell that is different from their normal scent
  • Bloody, yellow, or brown discharge
  • Loss of balance and hearing
  • Loss of hair around the ears, tail, or upper back
  • Crusty and flaky skin around the affected area resembles dandruff. Their skin may also change color or texture, becoming pink or red, or even turning gray or black at advanced stages.
  • Recurrent or extreme ear infections as indicated by regular head shaking and tilting.

Its non-negotiable that as a pet parent you need to learn how to clean a dogs ears using a dog ear cleaner, to prevent recurring yeast infections that cause painful ear infections. Knowing how to clean your pups ears and making sure they stay clean is the only way you can stay in control and prevent a mess.

If your dog is prone to yeast infections, putting them on a diet that minimizes yeast outbreaks is another important step.

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Is Diet To Blame For Dcm In Dogs

Within the past several years, DCM has been occurring more frequently in dogs than before. And instead of just targeting large breeds, these newer cases are affecting a wide variety of breeds, including dogs that hadnt been considered to be at high risk for DCM. This suggests that a factor other than genetics is causing disease in these pets.

In response, the FDA teamed up with diagnostic laboratories, veterinary cardiologists, and nutritionists to investigate the recent DCM cases in dogs. They requested that veterinarians report any cases of canine or feline DCM to the FDA.

A total of 560 dogs with DCM have been reported so far, and the FDA is using these cases to look for any trends that may have factored into the disease. In particular, theyre focusing on blood tests, diagnostic findings and diet, as well as other factors.

Are Grain Free Dog Foods Healthier

Over the past couple of decades, grain free dog foods have become tremendously popular. Today they are often preferred to other kinds of kibbles, even for dogs that do not have any food allergies or sensitivities.

People often believe that these foods have better quality ingredients that they are lower in carbohydrates/starches than other dog foods and that they have more protein. Not all of these things are true. It always depends on the particular dog food or brand.

Veterinarians tells us that true food allergies are not common in dogs, accounting for about 10 percent of all the allergies diagnosed in dogs. They are only the third most common cause of allergies in dogs, behind flea bite allergies and inhalant allergies. However, if youve ever had a dog with a food allergy or a food sensitivity, you know just how awful they can be.

And, if youve ever spent any time on a dog food message board, you would probably doubt that low percentage. There is never a shortage of dog owners with itchy dogs or dogs with gastrointestinal problems.

Some people even some veterinarians and alternative health practitioners seem to believe that grain free dog foods are healthier for dogs because, by definition, they do not contain the glutens found in some foods with grains.

Actual gluten only comes from wheat and related grains such as barley, rye, oat, and all their species and hybrids . This means that corn and some other grains and cereals do not really have gluten.

Read Also: Low Protein Diet For Kidney Disease

Taste Of The Wild Grain


Taste of the Wild High Prairie is one of 9 dry recipes included in our review of the Taste of the Wild product line.

  • First 5 ingredients: Buffalo, lamb meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, peas
  • Other recipes: Puppy, adult, small breed, and more
  • See all 9 available recipes

Taste of the Wild High Prairie derives most of its meat protein from buffalo, lamb meal and chicken meal. Our dry matter label analysis reveals the recipe contains 36% protein, 20% fat and 36% estimated carbs resulting in a fat-to-protein ratio of about 56%.

A superior choice for your dog. Heartily recommended.

Sample buyer reviewMy fur babies love it, I bought the bag before I finished off their other food and they would inspect the bag. As soon as I cut it open and fed them, they wont touch their other food. They know which is which and they prefer Taste of the Wild over all their food. Glad theyre happy.

Animal Numbers In Dcm Reports Received Between January 1 2014 And April 30 2019

Merrick Grain Free Real Chicken &  Sweet Potato Recipe Large Breed Dry ...

*Cats are generally more likely to develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy is recognized as a genetic condition in dogs, typically in large or giant breeds, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, or the Irish Wolfhound. It is also seen in Cocker Spaniels associated with taurine deficiency. It is believed to be less common in small and medium breed dogs. We suspect that cases are underreported because animals are typically treated symptomatically, and diagnostic testing and treatment can be complex and costly to owners. FDA has observed a reporting bias for breeds like Golden Retrievers due to breed-specific social media groups and activities that have raised awareness of the issue in these communities and urged owners and vets to submit reports to FDA. Because the occurrence of different diseases in dogs and cats is not routinely tracked and there is no widespread surveillance system like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have for human health, we do not have a measure of the typical rate of occurrence of disease apart from what is reported to the FDA.

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What Are The Causes Of Pancreatitis In Dogs

Pancreatitis can be caused by a high-fat diet, and sometimes, high protein makes it worse. This is one of the most common causes of acute pancreatitis.

It can also be more common in dogs who are obese or who have diabetes. Trauma to the organ can also cause the organ to fail.

Human food is particularly concerning. A high-fat human food like a big old piece of butter could cause an attack.

Dogs who are on medications like potassium bromide, phenobarbital, estrogen, azathioprine, diuretics, or cholinesterase inhibitors are more at risk.

Some breeds, like Miniature Schnauzers and Toy Poodles, and some toy and terrier breeds are predisposed.

Are Fancy Diets To Blame For Everything

In recent years , fashionable diets are becoming more and more widespread. People eat more consciously, try to live healthily, lose weight , and so on.

Certain trends are also prevalent among pets. For example, a grain-free diet may be absolutely recommended if your dog is allergic to grains. However, many pet owners believe that grain-free diets are healthier in all cases.

Well, you need to discuss your dogs diet with your vet. But many experts think that , because of the possible link between DCM and a grain-free diet, you may want to choose grain-inclusive dog food for your pooch.

Anyway, its not just the grain-free diet thats so popular among the novelties. More and more pet owners choose the so-called BEG diets due to media and marketing.

In the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association on December 1, 2018, Lisa M. Freeman wrote that BEG diets had become the main suspects in causing heart disease.

These contain unusual ingredients, rare animal meats , vegetarian, and even vegan formulas. They practically contain a lot of ingredients, with even more special and unique combinations.

Because of this, I think its obvious why its so hard to figure out exactly which ingredient is what causes DCM in dogs. It is also conceivable that the problem is not one component but a unique combination of several, possibly components.

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Recommended Serving Amounts For Homemade Dog Food

As a general rule, dogs will eat around 2 to 3 percent of their ideal body weight in fresh food daily. Larger breeds may need as little as 1 1/2 percent, and smaller breeds may need as much as 4 percent.

This works out to be approximately:

  • 2 pounds of food per day for a 100-pound dog
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of food per day for a 50-pound dog
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound of food per day for a 25-pound dog
  • 5 to 6 1/2 ounces of food per day for a 10-pound dog

There is much variation in what the ideal amount should be as it depends on how much your dog weighs and how active she is.

I feel that the best approach is to feed and watch if your dog is losing weight, give more, and if your dog is gaining weight, give less.

For our pugs, we feed a scoop each in the morning and a scoop each in the evening, plus all their supplements.

We have an easy system for this: homemade food is refrigerated in a sealed container with a measuring cup , and all the supplements are lined up together in a cupboard in the kitchen. Keeping your ingredients organized and accessible will make feeding time fast and smooth.

Compared to feeding commercial food, where you might scoop out kibbles or open up a can, feeding homemade food with all the supplements takes maybe 10 seconds more. And even if it took 10 minutes more, fresh wholesome food for our furbabies is worth it.

So What Conclusion Should We Get Anyway

Why your dog’s grain-free diet might not be as healthy as you think

As mentioned above, the association between grain-free and BEG diets and DCM has not yet been fully confirmed.

However, there are reports that the condition of dogs with DCM has improved after stopping these diets. In addition, the replacement of an amino acid called taurine has also alleviated the condition in dogs with heart disease.

Although it is not an essential amino acid, it can still be helpful for dogs with heart problems to supplement it. In such cases, it may be especially beneficial to buy dog food with taurine.

The point is that the harmfulness of BEG diets has not been proven, but caution does not hurt.

If your dog is on a grain-free or BEG diet, you may want to monitor his condition. Talk to your veterinarian about problems and any concerns. And be sure to accept his advice. A suitable specialist can spot the tiniest symptoms of heart disease.

Finding the best diet for your dog is not easy. You have to consider several aspects, e.g., activity, breed, age, health condition, etc. If you want to make the best decision possible, check out my comprehensive guide on how to choose the best dog food.

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